Belfast Photo Festival, Northern Ireland’s premier visual arts festival and the photographic biennial for the island of Ireland, returns from June 1-30, exploring the increasingly topical themes of sexuality and gender and how they relate to the perception and expression of identity social constructs.
The month-long festival will explore the pivotal role photography has in shaping opinion and the understanding of identity and selfhood through an extensive programme of indoor and outdoor exhibitions, talks, workshops, screenings, masterclasses, reviews and tours across 25 city-wide venues.
Bringing to the fore the themes of sexuality and gender and their role within society, this year’s festival is a bid to boost dialogue and conversation beyond the gender binaries of pink and blue that is normally assigned to newborns at birth; encouraging open-mindedness as the key take-home message. Representation, self-portraiture, ideology, the body, fashion and community will be the enduring themes in exhibited photographic works that are truthful, celebratory, poignant, political, domestic and erotic.
Commenting on the 2017 programme of events, Festival Director, Michael Weir, said: “Few media can capture the nuances and interplay of outward experiences and internal narratives like photography. This year, the festival has taken as its inspiration the visual politics of sexuality and the ways in which the camera can be used to construct and deconstruct gender binaries.
“We are delighted to be able to welcome such esteemed artists to Belfast for this year’s festival and to present significant collaborations with international publications including Hello Mr., a magazine and community exploring the story of gay men today, and Dazed, the radical fashion and youth culture magazine.”
Other highlights of this year’s festival include the Ulster Museum exhibition, Fashion - A Matter of Attitude, curated by Diana Edkins a former Curator at Conde Nast Publications; a talk by Mike Trow, current Picture Editor at Vogue; Juno Calypso’s startling photographic mission, The Honeymoon Suite; the return of the Royal Photographic Society’s International Print Exhibition and much more in venues throughout the city.
“One of the key focuses of Belfast Photo Festival is to provide young and veteran visual artists with a platform for development and collaboration,” continued Michael. “Each year, our open submission attracts entries from artists worldwide; entries which are then judged by respected figures in the photography industry including representatives from MoMa (Museum of Modern Art), New York Times, MACK, Foam, Magnum Photos, British Journal of Photography, IPA (Invisible Photographer Asia) and Belfast Exposed,” Michael explained.
“Belfast is an immensely creative city, one that is expanding beyond its boundaries and seen as a global cultural hub. What Belfast Photo Festival builds on with each edition is its links with key players in the visual arts. The festival is a forum for industry professionals and emerging artists to network, develop, exchange – culturally and artistically – and promote the visual arts in Ireland,” he added.
The Belfast Photo Festival 2017 programme will be officially launched on Friday May 12 at The National Grande Café.
Belfast Photo Festival is kindly supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Arts & Business Northern Ireland, Alexander Boyd Displays, Victoria Square, Ministry of Culture Taiwan, The Korean Foundation, Sasakawa Foundation, Frame Finland and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
For more information on this year’s festival, visit www.belfastphotofestival.com and keep up to date on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.